Kiev: Losing Crimea could result in millions in banking losses for the mainland, Ukraine`s central bank governor warned Thursday, as the autonomous region looked likely to vote to join Russia in a weekend referendum.
"There are 20-22 billion hryvnia (1.5-1.7 billion euros, $2.1-2.4 billion) in assets and liabilities (in Crimea)," Stepan Kubiv told journalists, less than three weeks after he took over the reins at the central bank.
"This can be lost if Crimea goes to Russia," said the former parliamentary deputy, who took office as a new government was installed in Kiev following the ouster of pro-Moscow president Viktor Yanukovych.
"More than 20 medium and large Ukrainian banks have branches and subsidiaries in Crimea," he added, citing a total 1,022 branches in the Russian-controlled Black Sea peninsula.
"We are closely working to monitor the situation with our regional (central bank) branch in Crimea" he concluded, dismissing talk of centrally-imposed cash withdrawal limits.
Cash transportation to the peninsula was however hampered "and we cannot ensure the transportation of cash even within Crimea," possibly pushing individual bank branches to limit transactions if they ran short on cash, he said.
Analysts have warned of painful consequences for the southern Ukrainian region if it does secede from the mainland, with investments, tourism and agriculture likely to be affected.
Crimea is due to vote in a referendum on Sunday on whether it should join Russia, a move the new powers in Kiev have slammed as illegal, even as Russian forces continue to surround Ukrainian military bases.